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ClassicsOnline Home » ALBINONI: Oboe Concertos, Vol. 3
Albinoni played at his best, but in a modern style...
This is the third of three virtuoso oboe concertos, taken from the Opus 7 and Opus 9 works of Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni in Venice, Italy, published in 1722, and given a somewhat "modern" styling by Anthony Camden and his cohorts.
It is interesting how three albums have been created where there were at most two before. To this end, the first three tracks seem not to belong in an album that is mainly from Opus 7. However, the big difference is the treatment that these concertos have been given. Camden uses a modern Howarth oboe and this has a slightly metallic sound (rather like a trumpet). Many people enjoy the sound of a trumpet, and certainly, artists like Alison Balsom have made the trumpet seem almost interchangeable with the oboe. So this could be seen as an enhancement to the sound quality.
Nonetheless, whether an old-fashioned, woody-sounding (and therefore subtler sounding) or a modern-sounding (and therefore more scintillating) oboe is played, these baroque oboe "concerti a cinque" make for a delightful, spirited and joyful performance that are capable of lifting any mood. This could be music for people who are looking to be introduced to the classical baroque period because it is very easy to listen to.
Certainly the other two volumes in the set (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) are also well-worth a listen and should also be in any serious music-lover's collection.more....
Penguin Guide Key Recording
Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni (1671-1751)
Oboe Concerti, Op. 7, Nos. 5,6,11 & 12, and Op. 9, No.12
String Concerto, Op. 7, No.4
The oboe, perfected in France around the middle of the
seventeenth century, gained acceptance in Venice during the 1690s. The first known
Venetian operas to include a part for it dated from 1692, and by 1696 at the latest it had
been heard at the Basilica of San Marco, which two years later recruited its first
permanent player of the oboe. Several other oboists of note established themselves in the
city, and the four ospedali grandi, the
charitable institutions caring for foundlings, orphans and the destitute, added the
instrument to the teaching curriculum.
It was logical, given Italy's - and, indeed, Venice's -
pioneering rôle in the development of the concerto, that sooner or later the first
concerti with parts for oboes would be written. The big question was how, if at all,
should they differ in style and form from violin concerti? For Vivaldi, as for most
Italian composers, the problem was easily resolved. In his hands the oboe becomes a kind
of ersatz violin. To be sure, he takes care not to exceed the normal compass of the
instrument (running from the D above Middle C to the D two octaves higher), remembers to
insert pauses for breathing and avoids over-abrupt changes of register, but the solo part
still seems remarkably violinistic - as Vivaldi himself tacitly acknowledged when, on more
than one occasion, he prescribed the violin as an alternative to the oboe.
It was left to Vivaldi's important Venetian contemporary,
Tomaso Albinoni, to find another way of treating the oboe in a concerto. Apart from being
a capable violinist, Albinoni was a singing teacher married to an operatic diva. His
experience of writing operas and cantatas decisively affected the way in which he
approached melody and instrumentation. His concerti equate the oboe not with a violin but
with the human voice in an aria. Conjunct movement and small intervals are generally
preferred to wide skips. In opening orchestral passages the oboe does not double the first
violin (as in Vivaldi concerti) but bides its time until its solo entry or else supplies
an independent line. The opening solo idea is often presented twice - the first time
abortively, the second time with a normal continuation. This twofold presentation is a
device borrowed straight from the operatic aria of the time.
Albinoni describes these works as concerti 'with' rather than
'for' oboe. The difference is significant. Whereas in a Vivaldi oboe concerto the prime
aim is to show off the capability of the soloist, here the oboe is the partner rather than
the dominator of the first violin - and even the second violin is not excluded from the
discourse. The spirit of give and take that exists between the treble instruments lends
these works a character that reminds one of chamber music.
Albinoni's first set of Concerti
a cinque with parts for one or two oboes, published in Amsterdam as his Opus 7
in 1715, has the distinction of being the first such collection by an Italian composer
ever published. The composer dedicated them to a local nobleman and amateur musician,
Giovanni Donato Correggio. The works are divided into four groups, each of which begins
with a concerto for strings (one of these, No.11, contains passages for a solo violin),
continues with a concerto for two oboes and finishes with one for a single oboe. Whereas
the concerti with one oboe are fully mature in conception, those with two oboes are more
varied, as if Albinoni, in 1715, had not yet decided how to structure them. Certainly, the
two-oboe works, which are all in the traditional trumpet keys of C major and D major,
carry strong traces of the trumpet sonatas that Bolognese composers, in particular, had
written at the end of the previous century. The finales of both the fifth and the eleventh
concerto show this quality very clearly, even if the slow movements adopt a more intimate
tone. But the most blatant 'fanfare' of all comes in the first movement of the final
concerto in Opus 9, Albinoni's sequel to Opus 7 published in 1722. The dreamy, elegiac
Adagio in B minor that forms the heart of this concerto is one of the finest specimens of
The present recording includes two of the single-oboe concerti
in Opus 7: Nos. 6 and 12. Both have finales in 3/8 or 6/8 that exploit Albinoni's
favourite rhythmic device of hemiola (where twice three units becomes thrice two units or
the reverse). Their outer movements are spacious, always presenting the main oboe theme
twice in succession on its initial appearance.
The fourth concerto from Opus 7 exemplifies the four string
concerti in this collection. It is closely related to the Sinfonia in G major included paraphrases of those in
the sinfonia, while the subsidiary material is unchanged. Self-borrowing of this kind was
normal among Italian composers of Albinoni's generation. In place of the fugue that ends
the sinfonia, however, the concerto has a tripping, dance-like movement in 3/8.
1995 Michael Talbot
Anthony Camden is solo oboist with the London Virtuosi, having
served as principal oboe in the London Symphony Orchestra from 1972 to 1988. His solo
recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra include the Bach Concerto for violin and oboe, with Yehudi Menuhin,
the Oboe Concerto by Grace Williams and a
video of music by Bach with Claudio Abbado. He founded the London Virtuosi in 1972 with
James Galway and John Georgiadis and the ensemble thereafter toured widely in the
Americas, throughout Europe and in the Far East. Anthony Camden himself, the son of a very
distinguished British bassoonist, has given master classes at many of the most famous
conservatories and schools of music and is currently Dean of Music at the Hong Kong
Academy for Performing Arts and an Honorary Professor of the Shanghai Conservatory of
Music. In addition to some 400 recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra, his
recordings with the London Virtuosi include Mozart's Oboe
Quartet, a Telemann Trio for flute, oboe and
harpsichord with James Galway and for RCA Haydn's Divertimento for oboe and strings. Anthony Camden
plays on a Howarth Oboe.
Alison Alty first studied in London with Malcolm Messiter
before gaining a Bachelor of Music (Hons) degree at Manchester University. She then
studied with Anthony Camden at the Guildhall School of Music. After being awarded a double
distinction at the National Centre for Orchestral Studies she worked regularly as an
oboist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the
London Mozart Players. She is currently working as a free-lance oboist both with large
orchestras and also chamber ensembles.
The London Virtuosi
The London Virtuosi was founded in 1972 by Anthony Camden,
James Galway and principal string players from the London Symphony Orchestra. In the 21
years of its life the London Virtuosi has performed in all the major countries in the
world - USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe, China, Japan etc. It has been the resident orchestra
in Festivals in Britain and Spain and made many recordings. In recent years the London
Virtuosi has specialised in performing all the Brandenburg
Concertos and a large repertoire of Baroque and classical music. The orchestra
consists of sixteen string players, a harpsichord and an oboe and is directed from the
violin by the leader John Georgiadis, who was for fifteen years the Concertmaster of the
London Symphony Orchestra.
John Georgiadis, Rolf Wilson, Barry Wilde, Benedict Cruft, James McCleod, Roy Gillard, Roger Garland and Lilly Li
Brian Hawkins, George Robertson and Dai Emanuel
Douglas Cummings and Ben Kennard
Born at Southend-on-Sea, Essex, John Georgiadis studied the
violin at the Royal Academy of Music and after two and a half years as leader of the City
of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra moved to the London Symphony Orchestra, which he led for
some eleven years, through two periods between 1965 and 1979. An early interest in
conducting, supported by study with Sergiu Celibidache, brought an international career in
this rôle and appointment in 1991 as Principal Guest Conductor of the Queensland
Philharmonic Orchestra. His connection with the London Symphony Orchestra has been
continued with conducting engagements with the orchestra in London and in tours to the
United States and elsewhere. Since its foundation in 1972 John Georgiadis has been Music
Director and Conductor of the London Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and from 1987 to 1990
played first violin in the Gabrieli Quartet.
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ALBINONI: Oboe Concertos, Vol. 3